Lessons from Singapore's First Climate Change Strike (was it really a strike though?)

Inspiration & background

Sometimes, in this crazy world we live in where chaos and change are our only constants, it takes the most senseless acts to make the most sense.

Singapore’s climate action digital demonstration on 15 March was inspired by a Swedish girl who had the courage to make a stand for what she thought was right, in a way that made no sense to the layperson – until it did.

This girl is Greta Thunberg.

Who is Greta Thunberg?

Greta Thunberg is a 15 year old Swedish girl who went on strike every day during school hours for three weeks. She now sits on the steps of the parliament building in Stockholm, every Friday, to demand drastic policy changes in response to climate change.

 It might not make sense to us immediately, because how will skipping school in protest result in better climate change policies? This goes against the rules of negotiation we’ve grown accustomed to – there is no repercussion felt by the players complicit in worsening climate change. In fact, before demands are heard, the bigger question is: will the government listen to the voice of a girl who cannot even vote? If nothing comes out of this, is Greta not just sacrificing her own education and future?

Yet, the results speak for themselves.

On March 15, students in over 100 different countries, 1,700 towns and cities, have rallied together in a coordinated global school walkout named Youth Strike 4 Climate. It is clear that the voice of our youths cannot be denied: we care for climate change and we want drastic policy change to curb this dangerous escalation of global temperatures. After this, even the most disingenuous governments and corporations cannot deny hearing what’s being demanded of them by our generation. 

All it took for us to stand together with one united voice, was the senseless act of a 15-year-old girl protesting outside Sweden’s parliament building with nobody but herself.

The makings of a digital demonstration

Despite the serious tone of the paragraphs above, this article doesn’t take itself seriously. The idea is to show you, our reader, that when it comes down to planning advocacy, often we have no idea what we’re doing. We stumble in the dark, scrambling to make things work…half of which are unplanned, uncertain, or unfeasible but we just don’t care. In other words, if you’re ever inspired to make a difference but have no idea how to go about it, just do what we did – wing it.

Singapore’s digital demonstration is our attempt to galvanise our youths to stand in solidarity with the Youth Strike 4 Climate global movement on 15 March. It was organised by Pamela Low (@tingkats.sg) and Qiyun Woo (@theweirdandwild).

The most attractive thing about a virtual campaign is the benefit of high impressions, direct engagement with participants, and even continuity of the campaign’s sentiment after the strike has ended (Yes, “millennials” and our “digital addiction”). With a dramatically short runway, Pamela and Qiyun had to conceptualise the demonstration and create the entire digital toolkit for interested participants.

As with all digital campaigns, it’s imperative to use accompanying hashtags. This is to create top-of-mind campaign awareness as viral content is continuously shared with the same hashtags. This creates interest amongst non-participants, spreads the message of the campaign, and may motivate non-participants to join in. The pair decided on #climatestrike and #climateactionsg – the first to make it clear that the digital demonstration is a part of the global climate strike, and the second to make it clear that this demonstration is by the youths of Singapore.

The most important part of the demonstration was the collateral for social media. The pair wanted something that represented Singapore but was also generalised enough for it to not have a “motherhood” flavour (Would you honestly share something that looks like the lion from the Kindness Movement on your social…). The post concept went through several iterations with a bunch of conflicting and confusing comments from various individuals and groups:


Merlion is cute but super motherhood – this looks like a project for the government TBH


Cute outline of Singapore, not too motherhood, is cool. The beautiful hand belongs to Qiyun.


Until it was decided that there will be four versions of the final graphic for the participants’ various needs (PEOPLE VALUE CHOICE DON’T THEY):



Participants were to pick the graphic most suitable for their needs, and share the post on Instagram as stories or posts, voicing out why they believed we needed climate action and climate policy.

 Singaporean youths voice support for climate action

The support from Singaporean youths, and even personalities like Paul Foster, Prettipls, and Denise Keller (!!!), was extremely heartening as it is clear evidence that we’re all cognizant of our responsibility to be good stewards of our environment (Cue tears of joy). It’s a reflection of our readiness for civic action, a statement strongly opposed to the popular belief that we’re an apathetic generation – we’re more than willing to stand up for our beliefs and demand change.



Interested to see how the campaign did? The campaign’s response numbers are still being collated and visualised into cute little graphics, so there’ll be a small update on that later on.


Wisdom from the pair for anyone planning future demonstrations

Even while the campaign was going on, Pamela and Qiyun were reflecting on how the campaign could have been more effective. They’ve agreed on two main learning points that anyone keen on launching their own digital demonstration for the environment can take into account (There were a lot of “aiyah”s and “wasted”s during these discussions).

 1. Longer runway for participants to prepare

Participants could have been given a longer time to prepare their Instagram posts and to spread the word of the digital demonstration. There were a lot of other like-minded individuals who would have loved to be a part of the demonstration, but knew of it too late or were unsure where to get the relevant templates to join in. Considering the fact that the demonstration was synced with the global movement, meaning it was at 12-1PM Singapore time, many individuals were either busy at work or school, which meant it was hard for them to join in even if they wanted to, within the timeframe.

2. Call to action

The participation of prominent social figures like Paul Foster, Preetipls, and Denise Keller, was extremely encouraging for the movement (Pamela and Qiyun both had seizures when they saw their posts tbh). However, we could’ve gotten these individuals involved earlier, and asked to include a call to action in their post (like a link to the template folder maybe?), the movement could potentially have gained greater traction.

 What do all of this mean, moving forward?

It’s important to always ask a simple but effective question after anything has happened: so what?


Did anything change after the global Youth Strike 4 Climate movement? Governments and corporations around the world heard us for sure, but has any of them made promises addressing our concerns? Can they continue keeping up the pretence of ignorance in spite of our demands simply because they don’t face any immediate repercussions?

How about you? Did you feel that the climate strike made a difference, or are there other more effective ways to push for better climate policy? Was this all an exercise in futility?

On our end, we think change begins with small seeds being planted across brilliant minds. We think change takes time, patience, and effort. We think that even if nothing immediate has happened, the climate strike was a rousing success. To us, what’s more important than governments and corporations hearing our demands, is that the younger generation hears them. And we’re certain they did. These are the ones who will run our world. They must understand the gravity of the situation, and believe in the inevitability and necessity of better climate policies. The climate strike did exactly that – plant the seed of change in their minds – and that is the greatest contribution in the fight against climate change we can possibly hope for. 

Interested to find out more about the climate strike? Check out these articles!

Photos: Kids in 123 countries went on strike to protect the climate

‘It’s our time to rise up’: youth climate strike held in 100 countries

Kids striking against climate change: ‘We’re fighting for our lives’ 


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